I’d motored into Cape Town on the Wednesday. Basically to get a haircut and a carwash and to attend to some business. Luckily, I finished the business early and since I’d dressed up in a beautiful double cuffed Paul Smith shirt I ventured into the streets of hipster central in search of Robert and Alberto.
In search of hope.
Hope that these two charmers could be persuaded to join me for lunch and CheninBlanc in one of Bree Street’s sun dappled bistros.
Alas. It was not to be. Robert had an appointment and Alberto had to keep an eye on the Gallery, with its fresh consignment of treasures.
Alberto told of Cape Town’s latest artsy hotel venture as he guided me through the display of Villa sculptures and mid-century glass ware. A conversion of grain silos on the old dockside.
All dolled up, with the perfect place to go
I headed off into the high noon.
At the lift I met Magdalena. Beautiful. Beautifully groomed. Impeccably put together. We exchanged witticisms whilst standing in the parking garage waiting for the concierge to unlock the lift lobby door.
New hotels are bound to have teething problems, don’t you know.
Charm, wit and an impossibly handsome man in immaculate tails. All of us crisp and smiling. The lobby a perfectly understated transition from the harsh parking garage to the lushness of The Silo Hotel. Polished concrete floor. Limed brick work. Hand finished plaster walls. Three shades of grey. Dazzling yellow velvet sofa. Satin stainless steel, mysteriously abstract artwork, all in all the right places.
The lift arrived, we entered, looked at each and laughed as we chanted the mantra that is so often silent or sadly unnecessary, “perfect lighting.” More than that, the perfect lift. Narrow oak panelling, with mirror in the wainscoting. A shallow chandelier on the ceiling, much like the old Maharani, far across South Africa in Durban all those years ago, except for the artfully incorporated stainless steel of course.
We looked fabulous. Fabulous.
I handed Magdalena my card before we parted on the sixth floor.
Two laughing girls got into the lift.
Keep in mind if you please, that I am of a vintage when all I meet seem younger than me and almost without exception are either ‘boy’ or ‘girl’, or ‘children’. It leaves me feeling fatherly, or patriarchal in the nicest possible way, of course.
The girls, gorgeous and groomed, embraced me, kissed my cheeks and insisted that I join them for lunch.
I did. I’ve never said no to lunch.
The roof deck reminds me too, strangely, of the Maharani. The ghosts of grand hotels passed. The luminous green lawn (here it’s AstroTurf, used to marvellous effect as a kind of witty outdoor carpeting) and bright yellow parasols channelling Sol Kerzner and the gold and sunny yellow years of Southern Sun.
The maître d’ greeted the girls like he knew them and had been expecting them. He recognised me in the manner only an expert restauranteur can.
The menu beautifully conceived by Veronica Canha-Hibbert, previously of the Ellerman House, consists of deconstructed old favourites- perfect for light snacking and ideal to enjoy with drinks. A Cosmo for Jo and a Belling for Candice. I went straight for one of the Chenin Blancs that my new world in the Swartland has led me to lately. Botanical the Citrusdal Winery a fine choice, I thought. Peachy and lush with a long finish, deeply dry on the palate. The girls normally seduced by Sauvignon Blanc were surprised and delighted by it (280ZAR).
I enjoyed my chilled Chenin with finely made Vietnamese vegetable rolls (ZAR95), served with a startlingly pleasant and piquant sauce. Water. Candice ordered the prawn tempura (ZAR225), divine! Jo-Anne highly exited by the deconstructed lamb curry roti (ZAR160). Fab, (and made all the more interesting by the crisped up roti.)
We lounged back on beautifully cushioned sofas, and chatted and giggled and bonded, eating and drinking off tables of just the perfect height and size. Linen napkins and beautiful cutlery. Paper thin glassware.
The staff are all absurdly attractive and the view is unsurpassed- certainly in Cape Town and possibly even the world. The calmest of calm Cape days and the finest of Chenin Blanc (did I mention the Chenin), sails dotted over Table Bay and the friendly fussing of the service team as they cheerfully chatted and wobbled finding their feet in a restaurant only just open, but delivering fine unobtrusive service anyway.
A restaurant tinged with nostalgia that they know not, the pleasure of the company of strangers.
1650ZAR including a tip. We didn’t use the pool.
THE SILO HOTEL
Silo Square, V & A Waterfront, Cape Town